I’m Turning 32, But I’m Not The Mom I Thought I Would Be
I am turning 32 next week and for some reason, this birthday milestone is hitting me pretty hard. I think it's because I can officially no longer pretend that I am young. I mean, sure, I'm young relatively speaking, compared to someone who's 82. And sure, I might be a “young mom” by New York City standards, but for all intents and purposes, no one thinks of someone in their 30s as “young.”
So here I am. No longer young, not exactly ancient. Are you hearing Britney Spears “not a girl, not yet a woman” playing in your head right now like I am? I am feeling a little strange about reaching such an age where I feel like I should have it all together, but I don't. I don't at all.
Back in the day when I was 30, I could pretend like I *just* left my 20s, like we were still BFFs who had just lost touch briefly. Even when I turned 31, I was still just a stone's throw away from my 20s too. (OK, probably the fact that I use phrases like “stone's throw” should give me away that I am plenty old, but still …) But now, there's just no pretending.
My kids are embarrassed by my dancing, my husband just found his first gray hair, and I officially have wrinkles. Wrinkles! Honestly, after I found them, I just pretended to forget about them because it's just too shocking. When I used to imagine what kind of mom I would be, I thought in a lot of ways that I would have it together by 32. I always dreamed of being the kind of mom who was always warm and comforting, had wise words of wisdom for my kids, always had her nails painted and looked nice, and greeted them with a bountiful table full of hearty and nutritious foods.
Guess who's picking up grocery store chicken for dinner tonight with chipped nail polish from two weeks ago? *raises hands*
In some ways, I am tempted to beat myself up about not being the type of mom I want to be, but in other ways, now that I am older and wiser, I am learning that it's much better to be nice to myself. I can both forgive myself and work on ways to improve myself. I used to think that it was all or nothing; I was either a terrible mother or I was a great mother. But now, I can see more clearly that some days, I am a great mom and other days, I am definitely not the best. This isn't about empty sayings and shrugs of “well, no one is perfect” — this is real life. This is me admitting that I have screamed at my kids and I have lost my patience even when I swore I wouldn't and I have acted like a toddler and been so ashamed. It's not a pretty truth. But then, I have been there when my kids needed me, I have advocated for them, and I have loved them from the moment they were born. I am at once a great mother and a mother-in-progress.
In fact, I came across a quote the other day that I wanted to print out and frame because it was just that good and it seemed to perfectly sum up where I am in my life right now. The quote was in the book “This Messy Magnificent Life” and it read something along these lines:
“God loves you just where you are and she loves you too much to leave you there.”
I mean, how perfect is that? Insert your belief system and you have the perfect starting stone for both loving yourself exactly where you are while having the courage and motivation to keep improving. So, going into my 32nd year of life (gulp), that's exactly where I am finding myself. Learning more, day after day, that I will never quite be exactly the kind of mom I want to be.
But that doesn't mean I'm going to stop trying.